OPEC frets as oil prices remain unstable

Published August 1st, 2015 - 12:11 GMT

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in a joint statement with Russia price volatility and oversupply was damaging the market for crude oil.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak hosted OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri to discuss short-term market tends and long-term prospects in the crude oil market.

"It was stressed during the meeting that price volatility and the general oversupply in the oil market observed in recent quarters have been less conducive for market stability," both parties said in a joint statement. "Despite current uncertainties, signs of a more balanced market in 2016 may provide much desired stability to the oil market in the longer-term, a prerequisite for the continuity of timely and adequate investments."

The increase in crude oil on the global market comes as the world's economy struggles to emerge from the last fiscal crisis. While trends in the US economy continue to show gains, most recently with improved figures for gross domestic product, the Chinese economy, one of the largest in the world, is showing signs of weakness.

OPEC in its last string of regular meetings opted to keep production levels staticdespite price swings in order to protect their market share. OPEC's secretary-general in April described the market situation as "intermittent."

Russia's currency, the ruble, plummeted in value early in 2015 as the low price of crude oil put pressure on an economy targeted by Western sanctions imposed in response to the Kremlin's position on crises in Ukraine.

In June, however, the Kremlin said it expected the situation in the global crude oil market to show signs of stability.

Crude oil prices remain far below their June 2014 levels above the $100 mark in part because of gains in US oil production. Total average US crude oil production for the week ending July 24 was 9.4 million barrels per day, an 11.4 percent increase year-on-year.

Most energy companies are reporting weak second quarter results as the depressed crude oil market drags on profits. In its short-term market report for July, the US Energy Information Administration said US crude oil production should fall through early 2016. Full-year 2015 production is projected as 9.5 million bpd and 9.3 million bpd in 2016.

By Daniel J. Graeber

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